I’d like to see more of this rider’s toe in the stirrup. Her foot could easily pop out of it. This rider’s toes are turned out to the maximum in the 15- to 45-degree range. It’s not wrong and it allows for a vicelike grip of the leg, but it’s a little too stiff and jammed. To soften them, she could ride without stirrups. The angle behind the knee is 100 degrees, which is correct.
She has an excellent seat. Her posture is good and her loin is hollow, almost to the point of being a little stiff. She’s a little too tall in the air. I’d like to see her upper body a little more parallel to her horse’s neck.
The biggest issue she needs to fix is the release because she doesn’t have one. Her hands are set near the horse’s withers and the rein is tight. I daresay she’s being left. She’s not with her horse, which you can see in her upper body and hands. She needs to shorten her reins—long reins invite riders to get behind their horses’ motion. Then she needs to practice the long release, moving her hands halfway up the horse’s neck, pressing into it with a loose rein.
Having no release is interfering with the horse’s head and neck and, as a result, he is jumping defensively, not stretching forward and down and rounding his back as much as I think he’d like to. The rider needs to release the horse’s mouth and stay closed and forward in the air. The horse jumps well and has a very nice front end and a lot of thrust. He’s as cute as a button with a great face, quality head, ears and eyes. I think the rider may be overmounted.
The turnout is not as good as the first three riders. He’s pretty clean, but I think his legs and tail could be a little whiter and his mane is a bit long. The rider’s shirt is a little bright but other than that, she is appropriately dressed.
This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Practical Horseman.